Coffee Spots come in all shapes and sizes, but for some reason I have a real soft spot for small Coffee Spots. Last year, the “Smallest Coffee Spot” Award was won by Tintico, Greek Street.
This year I have once again been blessed by some very small Coffee Spots, serving some very fine coffee. As in previous years, this Award is entirely subjective: no Coffee Spots were measured during the judging process! This is one of the few Awards where I could have filled the shortlist over again: the world seems full of lots of really lovely, small, Coffee Spots.
You can see the shortlist after the gallery.
There are 15 Coffee Spots on the shortlist this year, all listed in order of publication.
This is the most recent of the three Speckled Ax locations in Portland, Maine, a delightful coffee bar attached to the front of the roastery. It’s a little bit out of the way, but is definitely worth the visit, even if it’s standing room only! Speckled Ax has also made it onto the shortlist for this year’s Best Espresso Award.
Moving along to Chester, and another in the category of most recent locations. The Jaunty Goat Bakery is across the road from the original Jaunty Goat, but is a coffee shop in its own right, serving takeout coffee and pastries, while you can also buy bread and coffee beans (either loose or in packets). The Jaunty Goat Bakery has also been shortlisted for the Best Cake Award.
Occupying the lobby of Ruffians barbershop on Maiden Lane in London, you could argue that Dark Woods is no more than the coffee bar itself. However, even if you included the lobby, it would still qualify for this shortlist! Dark Woods Coffee x Ruffians has also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso and Coffee Spot with the Best Lighting Awards.
The Espresso Room, Great Ormond Street
The original Espresso Room on Great Ormond Street is a legend of the London speciality coffee scene and one of the capital’s original tiny coffee shops. These days there’s no inside seating, just space to order down the side of the counter, plus some benches outside. The Espresso Room has also been shortlisted for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award.
Located off the lobby of 125 Summer Street, KōHi Coffee Co. occupies what’s best described as a cube just to the left as you enter. While KōHi has no seating of its own, you can sit where you like in the public space in front of the building. Alternatively, you’re welcome to go inside, order, then take a seat in the lobby. KōHi has also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award.
Back in the UK, COFFI occupies a lovely old coach house on a cobbled street in Liverpool, which provides a unique setting for the coffee shop. There’s limited seating inside at a long table, while there are four benches outside on the quiet street, although at some point, COFFI should open its upstairs room, which will provide lots more seating.
Kaffeekommune is Mainz’s original speciality coffee shop, going strong since 2014 and, for the last two years, roasting its own coffee too. Kaffeekommune occupies a cosy, ground floor space with high, brick-vaulted ceilings and whitewashed walls, although you can also sit outside on the terrace. Kaffeekommune has also been shortlisted for the Best Espresso Award.
Moving to San Francisco, Scullery is another tiny spot, this time near the top of Geary Street. Lack of size is no limit to Scullery’s ambition though. A multi-roaster, drawing from a range of local roasteries (“friends of ours” according to the manager), the concise espresso-based menu is joined by batch brew filter and several signature drinks.
Moving to Marietta, Georgia, Tuesday Coffee + Shoppe was my chance find of the summer (earning it a place on the shortlist for the Most Unlikely Place to Find a Coffee Spot Award). A lovely little coffee and gift shop, Tuesday serves local roasters, Bellwood Coffee, and sells an interesting range of bespoke products, many from local artisan producers.
Returning to what was then my home town of Guildford, an old favourite, Canopy Coffee, changed ownership, but still retained the same cosy interior and excellent coffee. When it first opened, I marvelled at how such an unpromising space had been turned into such a welcoming coffee shop and it’s still a gem to this day. Canopy Coffee is also shortlisted for this year’s Best Flat White Award.
The Colonel’s Son Coffee Roasters
Moving to Shrewsbury, The Colonel’s Son Coffee Roasters is both coffee shop and roastery in what might be the most unfeasible small space I have ever seen. To get either coffee shop or roastery into the space would be hard enough, but to get both in there takes genius. The Colonel’s Son has also been shortlisted for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award.
Staying in Shrewsbury, Nomad Coffee Co, at the end of the English Bridge, is around twice the size of The Colonel’s Son Coffee Roaster, although that isn’t saying much. The result is a lovely, friendly spot where you come as much for a chat with staff and customers as you do for the excellent coffee, drawn from some of the country’s best roasters.
Moving to New York City, Patent Coffee is located in a basement, tucked away underneath the Radio Wave building in the heart of Manhattan, which won it a spot on the shortlist for this year’s Coffee Spot with the Best Basement Award. It’s not a big space, which is why it’s on this shortlist, with just enough room for the counter and three seats, giving it a really cosy feel.
Staying in New York City, Marathon Coffee on 6th Avenue a high-ceilinged space, with the counter at the back, slightly offset to the left, leaving space on the right for a takeaway station, built into a recess in the wall. It’s still pretty small though, leaving no room for any seating. This makes it takeaway only, so it’s no surprise that Marathon has also been shortlisted for the Best Takeaway Coffee Award.
Our final entry is another old friend from Guildford, Koja Coffee, which this summer relocated to the lobby of New House just across the river from Guildford Station (hence its appearance on the shortlist for the Best Coffee Spot near a Railway Station Award). Like Dark Woods Coffee, you could argue that it’s no more than a coffee bar, but even if you included the lobby, it would still qualify for this shortlist.
A special mention needs to go to the following:
Gracenote Coffee and Wine Bar
Meier’s – Vietnamese Specialty Coffee
Blooming Skull Coffee
Blooming Coffee Bar
Ditto Coffee, Baltic Triangle
Canopy Coffee, London Square
The winner will be announced on Monday, 2nd January. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the other 19 Coffee Spot Awards for 2022.
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